Panel recommends site for new U.S.-Canada border crossing

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A U.S.-Canada government committee has recommended that a new Detroit-Windsor border crossing should be located southwest of the Ambassador Bridge. The committee’s selection means two leading proposals were dropped from contention — twinning the Ambassador Bridge and converting a train tunnel into trucking use, according to the Toronto Globe and Mail.

The new bridge is intended to reduce congestion at North America’s busiest commercial crossing. The committee selected a “concept” that narrows the location, says Dave Wake, a Canadian spokesman for the Border Transportation Partnership. Yet to be determined is the role of trucking magnate Manuel Moroun, who controls the privately run 76-year-old Ambassador Bridge. Moroun had proposed a huge expansion of U.S. Customs inspection facilities, according to the Detroit Free-Press.

Ambassador Port Co., owned by Moroun, wanted to pay the City of Detroit $30 million to extend the lease on the tunnel and buy about 25 acres of land near the bridge, according to the Free-Press. The property would allow Ambassador Port to move customs inspections booths from both sides of the Detroit River into a huge 200-acre site tentatively called the International Center.

By taking booths and inspections away from the bridge and tunnel entrances, he said, crossing times would be reduced dramatically, and the crossings would be able to handle much more traffic, pushing the need for another bridge span or tunnel expansion 20 or 25 years into the future, according to Dan Stamper, president of Ambassador Port and the Detroit International Bridge Co.

At present, a total of 45 booths are on the U.S. and Canadian sides. Stamper told the Free-Press that about 100 new booths — outfitted with the latest in X-ray and license-plate-reading security technology — could be built at the International Center, greatly boosting efficiency at the border crossing. Another 100 booths could be added later.